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GP Week : Issue 159
at BRIEFLY » The potential rider shuffle for next year is commanding speculative headlines, but few are paying attention to the pit crews involved. Stoner took his Italian crew chief and mechanics from Ducati to Honda, only to tell them that he was abandoning ship at year end. Rossi’s predominantly Australian crew moved to Ducati in their place. Could a straight reverse swap be on the cards? » Mind you, there are long shadows between Rossi and a return to Honda’s factory squad, although the senior staff he fell out with when he left in 2004 are long gone. But the resentment might linger, after Rossi gave the company a good going over in his autobiography “What if I had never tried it”. He wrote: “Whenever my thoughts turned to renewing the contract with Honda, I was filled with unhappiness.” » Tough times in Moto3 for teams eschewing the production-racer Honda or KTM power units. The Ioda and Mahindra riders struggle on, each team scoring points but once, one lap down at a depleted Le Mans race. Ioda makes its own engine, and riders are expected soon to be making pit-lane starts, as they exceed their allocation of eight engines. Mahindra is in a joint project with Oral Engineering, but with Oral’s other customers having abandoned them, development has been negligible and engine use high. Do results matter? Apparently not much, when it comes to Valentino Rossi’s earning power. The nine-times champion is still the centre of fans’ attention even when his results are as dismal as at Silverstone (qualified tenth, finished ninth). Years of wins combined with his unfailing and determined charm and latterly some more acute management put his estimated earnings at $31-million, according to the latest rich list by American “Forbes Magazine” . Rossi dropped from 13th-highest earning sportsman last year to 16th, sandwiched between F1’s Fernando Alonzo and Michael Schumacher. Boxing’s Floyd Mayweather is in another league altogether, more than doubling any of the motor-sport figures at $85-million. British Monster Yamaha rider Cal Crutchlow defied the doctors for a heroic sixth place at his home GP – and he will do so again to race at Assen next week. He was told he would be off a bike for “six to eight week” at the hospital that diagnosed fractures in his left ankle. The 26-year-old’s lie to track doctors that no fractures had been found was rumbled, but he persuaded them to let him race after undergoing severe physical tests. His ride from the back of the grid to sixth, only 15 seconds behind winner Lorenzo, would have endeared him to the factory Yamaha team, which has an over-abundance of candidates for the number-two slot. In a post-Silverstone web-chat Crutchlow said “my priority is to stay with Yamaha, and I’m in with a shout of a factory ride. But Crutchlow is considering a two-year offer to join Ducati, having already observed that “my way of opening the throttle is like Stoner’s” , adding “I’d take a chance on Ducati.” Crutchlow crashed in the third free practice and missed qualifying at Silverstone, hence the back-row start. In the cold-tyre fiasco, a repeat of what ruled him out of the race last year, his left ankle was dislocated and two bones fractured. He had modified his fitness routine to protect the injury, concentrating on cycling because “it uses a different part of the foot.” He was confident of passing any medical test before the Dutch TT. “If they passed me fit for the last one, they’ll have to do it again,” he said. ROSSI MAKES RICH LIST AGAIN SILVERSTONE HERO CRUTCHLOW TO DEFY DOCTORS AGAIN Down on last year ... but only by a million In-Demand Englishman considering Ducati offer 13 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: MOTOGP >>> NEWS